Editorial: President Donald Trump’s first 100 days galvanizes opposition 

Published: 04-28-2017 7:36 PM

On Jan. 21, President Donald Trump’s first full day in office, an estimated 500,000 people rallied in the streets of Washington, D.C., against the new administration.

Thousands more are expected in the capital this Saturday — the 100th day of Trump’s presidency — for the People’s Climate Movement march for climate, jobs and justice.

The bookend protests suggest that the most visible accomplishment of Trump’s first 100 days is the way he has galvanized Americans opposing his policies to take to the streets.

The People’s Climate Movement website (peoplesclimate.org) asserts, “On the 100th day of the Trump administration we will be in the streets of Washington, D.C., to show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet.”

The movement’s goals include promoting “solutions to the climate crisis rooted in racial, social and economic justice”; protecting “our right to clean air, water, land, healthy communities and a world at peace”; and halting “attacks on immigrants, communities of color, indigenous and tribal people and lands and workers.”

Among the participants are 10 activists who rode bicycles from Northampton to Washington, modeling what they hope will become commonplace — carbon-free methods of transportation. “The bike is the only vehicle that can transport people a great distance that doesn’t require fossil fuels,” says the Rev. Peter Ives, 74, of Northampton, one of the cyclists. “It’s totally run on carbohydrates.”

The People’s Climate March comes a week after Earth Day, when science was the focus of rallies in Washington and more than 600 other communities worldwide, including Amherst. The March for Science also took aim at Trump’s policies, particularly those dismantling environmental regulations and threatening scientific research.

The rally in Amherst drew an estimated 1,000 people, including scientists. Among them was Rolf Karlstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “It is absolutely crazy that we have to do this,” he said. “But we do … Science is under attack. This is a nonpartisan issue.”

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Greg Dewet, of Sunderland, a climate scientist, said he joined the march because of the “unavoidable reality” that science is being politicized. “Science means a huge amount to me personally, and it means a huge amount to society,” he said. “I’m here to share my support for the scientific method.”

Scientists generally have avoided the political stage and high-profile advocacy of their work, fearing that it would call into question the objectivity of their research. But that changed when the Trump administration threatened to cut federal funding of some research.

Rush Holt, the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said, “The level of anxiety about the state of science, its place in our society and government, and whether the conditions under which science can thrive are being maintained and defended … anxiety about that has led people to go into the public square,” the Washington Post reported.

While Trump did not directly address the March for Science, he issued a statement on Earth Day saying, in part, “Economic growth enhances environmental protection. We can and must protect our environment without harming America’s working families. That is why my administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment … My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.”

Whatever the president’s words, the fact is that Trump’s deeds — reversing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, reinstating permits for construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, and proposing deep budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health — are sufficient cause for alarm by environmentalists, scientists and citizens concerned about the environment whose health directly affects us.

The work of scientists is critical to the future of the planet and human advancement, and deserving of support from the thousands of people who rallied last weekend and who are expected to bring a powerful voice again this Saturday to Washington.

 

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